The St. Louis Blues, who were eliminated by eventual Cup runner-up Nashville in the second round last spring, are keying on speed and skill, although they are hindered at the start of the season by injuries.
While Pittsburgh is expected to be without tenacious winger Patric Hornqvist because of offseason hand surgery, St. Louis is expected to be without Alexander Steen (hand), Jay Bouwmeester (ankle), Robby Fabbri (knee), Patrik Berglund (shoulder) and Zach Sanford (shoulder) as they head to Pittsburgh to open their 2017-18 campaign against the two-time Stanley Cup Champions.
No team has won more than two straight Cups since the New York Islanders reeled off four in a row in the early 1980s.
After returning its team almost entirely intact a year ago, the Penguins had a little more turnover this offseason.
The biggest change was the departure of long-time franchise goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, taken by Las Vegas in the expansion draft. The net now belongs to 23-year-old Matt Murray, who earned two Cup rings while technically a rookie.
Evgeni Malkin, the team's other star center besides Crosby, predicted the Penguins will rely even more on speed and skill in trying to win the Cup again -- something that would surely give Pittsburgh dynasty status.
The game pits Penguins rugged fourth-line winger Ryan Reaves and St. Louis third-line center Oskar Sundqvist, who were traded for each other, along with draft picks, shortly after Pittsburgh won the Cup.